By Holly Davies
When my 16 year old son (who was camping) went to Kaiser Permanente for emergency eye surgery last month, I was anything but excited. He had already had retinal reattachment surgery two years prior. Now, his other eye needed the same surgery. But as concerned as I was about my son, I was pleasantly surprised and wowed by the Kaiser Permanente medical staff, and thankful for having had affordable medical insurance. Here are just a few parts of this event that I will never forget.
Before I could call Kaiser Permanente to report the out-of-area medical emergency and request instructions, they called me! The nurse had been on the phone with my son’s father when the connection was lost. The nurse located me through my son’s electronic records. She called and gave me the name and location of the facility where my son could be seen. This was not a Kaiser facility but it was OK because they were coordinating the services for us. What a relief to know that he could be seen that night.
Kaiser Permanente instructed us to follow up a.s.a.p. by taking our son to the nearest Kaiser facility the next morning. They wanted to make their own assessment as soon as possible to determine the level of urgency. At this appointment, it was determined that we should follow up with the Kaiser eye surgeon at our home town first thing Monday morning.
I took a chance and called the Ophthalmology Department on Saturday just to check the recording for the business hours. To my surprise, they were open and offered to double check the system for my son’s referral. The operator said the ophthalmologist on call would go ahead and view the referral immediately. She called me back within minutes to ask if my son could come in right now instead of Monday. We got there in a hurry. The examination took place promptly. By Sunday, we were scheduled for surgery.
Whether chatting with the Admitting Department, nurses, or doctors, we were made to feel calm and confident. The Surgery Department staff was careful to check the ID of the patient often, verified which eye was to receive the procedure, and a special mark was placed to indicate the correct eye. My son thought it was cool that the surgeon wrote on him. While the team wheeled my son into the operating room, a nurse showed me how I could watch my son’s progress on the new “Patient Tracking System”. The system included a card and an ‘up to the minute’ screen display that was confidential and easy to understand.
The surgeon had us come for a follow up appointment the next day and a few other times besides. If I had a question, I could call the doctor or email him directly. I was very impressed with the overall experience. Professionalism, compassion, and timely responses to my questions all added up to an amazing experience that otherwise could have been quite difficult. Thank you Kaiser Permanente!